Co-expression networks uncover regulation of splicing and transcription markers of disease

Pan Zhang, Bruce R. Southey, Sandra L. Rodriguez-Zas

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Gene co-expression networks based on gene expression data are usually used to capture biologically significant patterns, enabling the discovery of biomarkers and interpretation of regulatory relationships. However, the coordination of numerous splicing changes within and across genes can exert a substantial impact on the function of these genes. This is particularly impactful in studies of the properties of the nervous system, which can be masked in the networks that only assess the correlation between gene expression levels. A bioinformatics approach was developed to uncover the role of alternative splicing and associated transcriptional networks using RNA-seq profiles. Data from 40 samples, including control and two treatments associated with sensitivity to stimuli across two central nervous system regions that can present differential splicing, were explored. The gene expression and relative isoform levels were integrated into a transcriptome-wide matrix, and then Graphical Lasso was applied to capture the interactions between genes and isoforms. Next, functional enrichment analysis enabled the discovery of pathways dysregulated at the isoform or gene levels and the interpretation of these interactions within a central nervous region. In addition, a Bayesian biclustering strategy was used to reconstruct treatment-specific networks from gene expression profile, allowing the identification of hub molecules and visualization of highly connected modules of isoforms and genes in specific conditions. Our bioinformatics approach can offer comparable insights into the discovery of biomarkers and therapeutic targets for a wide range of diseases and conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-128
Number of pages10
JournalEPiC Series in Computing
StatePublished - Mar 11 2020
Event12th International Conference on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, BICOB 2020 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Mar 23 2020Mar 25 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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